Japan’s economy ministry is planning to test cashless payment technology using fingerprints and other biometric markers to make transactions more convenient for foreign tourists, sources close to the project said Tuesday.
The trials by the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry will be held from around October in tourism hot spots in the Kanto region around Tokyo, the Kansai region centering on Osaka and Kyushu, the sources said.
The ministry will analyze customer data and purchasing patterns collected from each area during the trials by nationality, age group and other demographic features, with a view to making Japan a more attractive destination and improving tourism services in the country.
Initiatives allowing tourists to rely less on cash could help boost visitor numbers ahead of the 2020 Olympics and Paralympics in Tokyo.
The system using biometric identification technology, known as the Omotenashi Platform after the Japanese term for hospitality, is being developed by Dai Nippon Printing Co. and Deloitte Tohmatsu Consulting LLC.
Trials of the platform in the Kanto region will include payments using fingerprints at hot springs resorts and restaurants in Kanagawa Prefecture’s tourist sites, including the hot springs town of Hakone and historical coastal town of Kamakura, the sources said.
In the Kansai regioin, technology using vein scanning will be tested with the cooperation of airport, railway and amusement facility operators in the hope of offering tourists a consistent payment system throughout their visit.
With the participation of local business organizations in Kyushu, trials there will allow tourists to use prepaid premium coupons at restaurants and shopping centers after registering their personal information.
According to the sources, the results of the trials are expected to be compiled in a report around March next year.
“If (the technology) boosts understanding of the wide range of tourists’ needs, its use could lead to an improvement in the level of services provided to them,” a source close to the project said.